In the Book of Acts, we find a lawyer Gamaliel speaking to the Temple elite, telling them to take no action against the apostles and their nascent faith community. Gamaliel reminds them that, as has been the case of the many leaders and movements that came before the Jesus movement, if this new movement is not of God it will die. I would add that if a community does not remain in God’s purposes it will also die.
Every faith community has a genesis moment in which its “spiritual DNA” is created and its foundational character and purpose are established. God is up to something new when a faith community first gathers and takes root, working his will in and through the lives of his people in a particular place. Reflection upon that genesis moment and the subsequent development of a church are important matters for church leaders and church members. Remaining true to or deviating from its spiritual DNA may explain much about whether a particular church thrives or fails to thrive.
Good Shepherd is no different in this matter. Its genesis moment was the coming together of Clay County residents who had been traveling to Murphy for Sunday services and their friends. It was founded by a mixed group of Episcopalians and their non-episcopal spouses who found comfort, support, and welcome in their small Clay County gathering. Initially meeting in each other’s homes, they planted in Clay County a faith community whose spiritual DNA is encoded for showing welcome and hospitality to all seeking to belong regardless of prior religious affiliation. This faith community will continue to thrive if we continue to embrace and continue to live into the full implications of our spiritual DNA. We must not take for granted that we are and will remain welcoming, but we must be intentional in looking for and greeting those among us who are new, those who are visiting, and those in the community who have not yet found us. We must widen the circle of those who feel at home among us. May God continue to give us the opportunity, the will, and the courage to accomplish his purposes for this church.
In Christ’s service,